Novak Djokovic defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (4), 6-2 to be the first player to win three China Open finals. Top seed Victoria Azarenka dismantled Maria Sharapova in straight sets, beating the second seed in a final for the third time this year after victories in the Australian Open and Indian Wells.
Djokovic now has a perfect record at the China Open with three victories in his three attempts. The Serb now looks to finishes the year as number one and inches ever closer to Rodger Federer in the world standings. Undoubtedly the star of the tournament, Nole was greeted by legions of fans everywhere he went, eclipsing even Na Li, home favourite and national treasure in China.
But apart from the Amiable Nole, the star in Beijing was the tournament itself, which has now re-established itself as one of the most prestigious events on the ATRP world calendar. Only in its ninth year the China Open is one of the youngest and although last year saw some of the biggest stars shun the event, this year saw a full compliment of global names grace the courts at the Nation Tennis Centre in Beijing such as Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Branislav Ivanovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and many more.
Victoria Azarenka is best in Beijing
The China Open takes place during the 'Golden Week' which is a week-long holiday in China, when they celebrate their national day. As a result the city's infamous traffic is much calmer however the tournament itself attracts over a quarter of a million attendees during the course of the event so there is still a great buzz about the city. The National Tennis Centre is located quite a distance from the city inside the Olympic Park, so many tennis enthusiasts stay in hotels within the park area.
Against the stunning backdrop of the Bird's Nest Stadium and the Water Cube the Olympic Park area goes tennis mad for the week of the China Open. Although there are legions of highly enthusiastic fans the global stars of the game make an effort to connect with them on a personal level and there are many signings and presentations all week. It's not unusual to see the players moving freely abut within the Olympic Park area.
Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Beijing has much to offer from a touristic point of view and tourists flock to The Great Wall and The Forbidden City, but it's a huge and varied city so you'll never run out of options. Among the many glamorous and well-attended parties you'll find on the Open's social calendar, the food is always an essential part of the festivities, in particular the Peking Roast Duck. The rooftop bar Yin in the Emperor Hotel in the Forbidden City is on the must-see list with a perfect blend of artisan tradition and modern glamour as is the Legation Quarter in Tiananmen Square.
As for the tennis? The future of the tournament is secure with the sport booming in Asia the stars will continue to return. Djokovic confirmed next year's attendance saying: “I am planning to come back to the China Open next year. It's been one of my most successful tournaments. This is where I love to play. I love the conditions and, as I mentioned before, I have lots of support from the fans who are very loyal and very nice.”
Fanatical support at the China Open 2012
The only thing the China Open lacks is a truly global Chinese superstar for the fanatical locals to support. Chinese number one Na Li became the first ever Chinese person to win a Grand Slam final when she won the Women's singles French Open in 2011 and made the final of the Australian Open in the same year. She is a megastar in her home country and reportedly the riches female sport star in the world (just to give you an idea of the popularity of the sport in China). Although a new partnership with Carlos Rodriguez is paying dividends, at 30 years-of-age China is looking for a bright young talent for the Chinese masses to adore.
Centre Court at the National Tennis Centre in the Olympic Park, Beijing
Since the Olympics the sports has gone celestial and with the funding and facilities that have since been in place it is only a matter of time before a slew of Chinese stars start to dominate world tennis and the Grand Slams. Li Na came in for some criticism from China's tennis chief Sun Jinfang at the US Open when he said We have seen for a long time that Li Na can suddenly collapse. Why is this? Because athletes like her have not received a good education.” Which would suggest a more educative stance from the Chinese authorities when it comes to grooming its future stars. Chinese national Zang Ze gave the hoime crowd something to cheer about as the 22-year-old wild card draw played the tenns of his life to reached the quarter finals and became the first Chinese man ever to beat a top 20 player, dumping out France's Richard Gasquet.CErtainly one to watch.
Novak Djokovic wears Dolce&Gabbana when winning the Laureus Spotrs person of the year award
Many of tennis' global superstars, who usually connect with their fans through the usual social networks of Facebook and Twitter, which are not available in China, have now turned to the Chinese platform of Sina Weibo, which has over 300 million users and is highly regulated by the government but remains the social network of choice in China.